Deep-fried Tenggiri Fish
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I grew up on these deep fried Tenggiri fish. It is a common fish in South East Asia cooking, and besides being known as Tenggiri, my mum refers to it more often as “ma jia” (in Chinese) or “beh ga” in Hokkein. For those who reside out of Asia, the fish may be more commonly known as Spanish mackerel. Growing up, there are not many fish I liked because I find them all fishy (I’m not much of an adventurous eater back then), but this fish is an exception because it is naturally sweet and not fishy at all. The bones are relatively large and few, so they are a little less cumbersome than other fish to eat. I remember enjoying it with rice or porridge. Looking back, I realised my mum’s meals are wholesome, unpretentious, and super yummy. So naturally, when I tried to re-create this now in my kitchen, I kept the recipe really minimalistic. For the ingredients, there are just three – fish, salt and oil. And to cook it, just heat the oil and fry the fish fillets (deep fry or pan fry) till golden brown. In this simple recipe, there are no excessive marinade, seasonings or ingredients so no risk of complicating or masking the natural good taste of the fish.
How to know if your fish has been deep fried to perfection? A nicely fried Tenggiri fish is crispy to the bite. I can hear the delightful ‘crunch’ as I sink my teeth into the fish, and the sound is music to my ears. The best part is, the fish stays crunchy even a few hours after it has been fried.
– Tenggiri fish steaks (cut cross-section), rinsed & patted dry
– vegetable cooking oil (example canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil)
– sea salt
– kitchen tongs (to hold the fish to check its progress)
1. Sprinkle a bit of salt over both sides of the fish.
2. Deep frying method. Heat some oil (enough oil to cover the fish) in a wok (or saucepan or deepfryer). Add fish steaks and deep fry till golden brown and crispy.
3. Pan frying method. If you prefer to pan fry, heat some oil (generous amount to cover a layer of the entire wok or pan. Add fish steaks to cover a single layer in the wok. Pan fry for a few minutes on one side till golden brown and crispy. Turn over and pan fry till golden brown on the other side.